Meet Buddy, my oldest son’s child – uh, dog! Buddy’s an entertaining pup with an amazing capacity for loving. Deeply. If lost, Buddy is the kind of dog that would walk hundreds of miles to find my son. Buddy’s the kind of dog who would – and has – eaten through latticework in my parents’ backyard to get to the front and sit by my son’s truck while my son was visiting. There’s a book called The Dog That Loved Too Much by Nicholas Dodman. It’s about dogs that suffer from separation anxiety, dogs that are terrified to be left alone.
That’s Buddy. Or at least it was in the beginning.
Buddy was adopted from the shelter at 10 months old. He was a stray, some kind of beagle mix. We don’t know anything about his history. My son had just finished his bachelor’s degree and wanted to get a dog of his own – he and Buddy were instant pals. Only problem? Buddy was terrified of being abandoned again. Buddy suffered from extreme separation anxiety. If my son left for even an hour of a grad school class, Buddy shredded everything – pillows, sofas, clothes, curtains, mini-blinds. Crating? Not an option. Buddy collapsed wire crates. Ate through plastic crates.
Many would have given up. In fact the #2 reason for returning adopted dogs is separation anxiety. But rather than give up on Buddy – who clearly would have never trusted again if abandoned a second time – my son worked with Buddy. He started with exercise before leaving him alone.
He tried Kong activity toys. Aromatherapy. Comforting music. Stuffing everything possible in the closet every time he left so he didn’t lose more bedding and books. They went on walks. Walks. More walks. Even runs, hikes – and mountain climbing.
Of course there was also training. And trips to dog parks to socialize with other dogs. It wasn’t easy or quick, but over time, Buddy grew to believe that humans could be trusted. That loving too much didn’t have to bring fear. Buddy learned what it is to be man’s best friend.
We’ve all had times we felt unsure (or at least I know I have!) Oftentimes it’s the simple things that touch me the most. What’s something simple someone did for you that touched your heart? A commenter will be chosen at random on Sunday evening, Feb. 23, 2014, to win an advance copy of my April book ONE GOOD COWBOY.